“I’ve made some of my best friends through the BC Youth Parliament… It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet people and make connections. ~Abby Head, Premier of BC Youth Parliament
Abby Head, a former resident of the qathet region, will serve as Premier of the 94th BC Youth Parliament this year.
Head was elected as Prime Minister by acclamation after being nominated for the position. She had been involved in the youth parliament for five years and served in the shadow cabinet for one year and in the cabinet for three years.
“I was able to learn a lot of new skills through the organization,” Head said. “I felt I would be able to put my skills to good use and help mentor the future leaders of the organization by becoming prime minister.”
When she started in the BC Youth Parliament, Head was in Grade 11 at Brooks High School. The opportunity presented itself to the Powell River Youth Council.
“I didn’t think I’d be accepted, but I thought I’d put my name in for the fun of it to see if I could pull it off,” Head said. “I was accepted and decided to attend in December 2017.”
She returned to school in grade 12, then went to the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she enrolled in a political science program. She continued to attend the youth parliament, which for the past two years has been held via video conference due to COVID-19.
For her premiership, Head will convene the BC Youth Parliament just after Christmas in the BC Legislative Assembly.
“I’m very excited to be returning to the Legislative Assembly this year and having our conversations in the physical chambers,” Head said.
The Youth Parliament is a non-profit organization and there is a board of directors made up of BC Youth Parliament alumni. Participants age at 21. Head said the board is called the senate and is responsible for overseeing parliament.
“They help frame us and manage risk,” Head added. “They play a role in some of our big projects, ensuring their success.”
As for the next parliamentary session, Head’s cabinet is currently drafting legislation.
“What’s important with the youth parliament is that the session creates the agenda for the year and we pass laws that turn into service projects,” Head said. “My firm will propose to reorganize Camp Phoenix, which is a five-day summer camp for children between the ages of eight and 12 who could not otherwise attend camp for social or financial reasons.
“We’re also proposing to run a municipal services board, which is a project that started last year, and those are in five towns across British Columbia. They are a chance for younger people to come together, plan service projects and carry them out in their communities.
In addition, regional youth parliaments are also a major project. These are weekend-long model parliaments for high school students to learn about parliamentary procedure and government.
There will also be an Appropriations Act, which will include the financial practices of the youth parliament, as well as budget and revenue plans.
In order to properly prepare the activities for the December session of the youth parliament, the cabinet will organize a legislative weekend, which will take place later this month.
Head hopes students from the qathet area will attend the BC Youth Parliament this year. She said she likes to see this area represented at the session.
“I really hope we get some members coming,” Head added. “We have the impression that everyone has a place in the youth parliament. If you think you don’t know enough but are really interested, we have something for everyone.
“The skills you learn, such as debating legislation, thinking critically and breaking down big ideas – it’s all worth it and can translate into so many different jobs and so many different roles you’ll take on. It’s a fantastic life experience.
Head said great connections are being made. Participants meet 97 young people from across the province and it’s a great way to network and connect with other young people, she added.
“I made some of my best friends through the BC Youth Parliament,” Head said. “A lot of us go to UBC together now.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet people and make connections.
Head said the BC Youth Parliament is a one-year commitment and the parliamentary session is just the beginning. Because they pass their service projects to the parliamentary session, participants must implement them. She said there will be cabinet meetings every two weeks to ensure all projects get off the ground and go as planned.
In terms of parliamentary decorum, Head said members of the legislature followed Westminster parliamentary procedure as well as their own rules.
“We’re having a lot of fun, but we’re imitating legislature procedure,” Head said. “The youth parliament even has a question period, which is usually fun.”
The British Columbia Youth Parliament appears to have laid the groundwork for Head’s professional aspirations. After completing her bachelor’s degree in political science, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. She would then like to work as a policy analyst, informing policy decisions.
“That’s kind of my interest right now,” Head said. “The courses I took at UBC on public policy and what I did in youth parliament, seeing the impact of legislation on the community, were factors.
In the fourth year of her bachelor’s program, Head enrolled in a co-op work experience program and participated in classroom studies. She will therefore not complete her degree before December 2023. She completed her cooperative internship in 2021 in a communication. role in an information technology company.
“I learned some awesome skills and really enjoyed that,” Head said. “For my next, I hope to work in the government sector. I think cooperation is super beneficial for your future job and just so you can apply what you learn in the classroom to the workplace.
Head said being Prime Minister of the Youth Parliament is a great honour. Growing up in this community gave her a lot of skills and experience that equipped her for the role, she added.
“I’m very nervous about going in,” she added, “but I’m confident we can collectively have a successful year.”